Moffat County football staying busy during off-season | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County football staying busy during off-season

High school camp, open weight room sessions begin Monday

Members of the Moffat County High School varsity football team and their fans celebrate the first win of the 2014 season in September. The Bulldogs will participate in many training opportunities this summer, including a 10-day camp in the following week with a scrimmage against visiting Alameda High School, activities hosted by the Denver Broncos later this month, a camp for younger kids planned in late July and more intensive two-a-days in August. The MCHS weight room will get a great deal of use and is open to all athletes throughout the summer.

Kickoff for the 2015-16 season of Moffat County High School football isn’t for months, but in the meantime, the Bulldogs have plenty in store for them this summer.

The MCHS varsity football program is setting its sights on success by preparing heavily for next season, including practice sessions that will take off soon.

A 10-day camp, as per Colorado High School Activities Association's rules, will start players off on the right foot throughout next week as they get back on the field and ready to build a bigger, better team.

Head coach Keith Gille said players will progress from no pads at first to strapping on their full equipment as they work in the early evenings with one another. The following week will see the Alameda High School squad come to town, with the two schools training together, capped off by a scrimmage the morning of June 11.

Gille served as head coach for Alameda's program from 2011 to 2013.

"It's a very physical ball club, they run our same stuff we do, so it'll be a great test for our kids," he said.

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Fitness and strength-building will be key heading into this point in the off-season, Gille said.

"Our kids need to get stronger," he said. "We have a comprehensive program of not only strength and weight-training, but also agility and plyometrics to help our student athletes to perform at the top level."

Players are expected to motivate themselves to hit the weights, each kid responsible for his own regimen — ideally working out four times per week. Starting Monday, the weight room at MCHS will be open for business free of charge for sessions starting at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays, and Gille hopes to see athletes from every sport and every age group visit regularly.

"Hopefully this will make them not only better in competition but also prevent injuries and have more fun," he said. "In my experience, the weight room is the only place where a student gains so much confidence mentally and physically that it increases their abilities at every level. When you watch a young person, female or male, walk up to a mirror and look at themselves and smile and walk away, you know that has done something to their confidence that no paper or comment or grade I can give them in English (class) will do for them."

There are more summer activities in store for the football team, as well. The Bulldogs will take part in the Denver Broncos High School 7-on-7 Tournament as well as the High School Combine on June 17 and 18. The tourney will feature dozens of Colorado teams in exhibitions of seven-man team touch football games — complete with helmets — while the combine measures athletic capabilities in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, bench press and more.

Players will also attend Colorado Rockies games as further team-building exercises. Gille said creating a team that everyone wants to join will also be achieved by meeting to swim together, bowl together, watch a movie as a group or get together for a community service project.

Gille also hopes to work with younger kids across Craig, with plans in the works for a camp in late July, one he hopes will turn into a "football bonanza" that will keep youths excited about the sport after getting to participate.

Moffat County football's two-a-day practices will get going in August, with the team's first game of the season a home grudge match against rival Steamboat Springs, followed by another challenger, Rifle.

Road games against Ridgeview Academy and Gunnison will also be "huge tests" before going into league play, Gille said. The Gunnison Cowboys were the only group to give the team a shutout, 49-0, during the 2014 season.

Other moments from throughout his first year with Moffat County also weigh on Gille's mind, such as the Homecoming game with Battle Mountain that turned into a 41-27 loss after a series of mishaps for which the coach still blames himself. However, there’s still time to learn from old mistakes.

Last fall, MCHS maintained a 4-6 overall record, which included a 3-2 standing in the 2A Western Slope North League that won the Bulldogs a conference title and put them in the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. The postseason run ended quickly, as they were defeated, 49-7, in the first round by the eventual state champions, the Brush Beetdiggers.

The playoffs were an eye-opener about preparing young players for the next level of high school gridiron, Gille said. He added that sense of preparation is something that's just as important this time around as Moffat County seeks to repeat as league champs and move closer to state.

"We're not going to sneak up on anyone, we do have a target on our backs," he said. "We've got to go into a place like Brush knowing we've got to take it to them."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

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